This week Riot made an announcement, and among many other things came a discussion of solo queue. For those who don’t know, when the current system, dynamic queue, was implemented, Riot promised that solo queue would be coming back in a few weeks. That was four months ago. In the middle they postponed it several times, and now they made a direct hint that it would never return in the form of a post saying “We’ll be honest: there’s definitely a world in which solo queue doesn’t return, but we’d rather keep it on the table as we work through these issues before making a final decision”. For those who do not follow Riot, this is almost a direct statement saying it will not be back, following their many other backtracking statements of the past.
Why is this important?
Dynamic queue is not the ability to choose your role before you queue up; that is champion select. Dynamic queue is the ability to queue for ranked with anywhere from one to five players, and it all be in the same ranking system. On the other side, solo queue is the old system where you were able to queue up for ranked with just yourself and possibly one buddy, and you would be put in a game with only other individuals, or at max a team of two. The dynamic queues greatly benefit anyone who wants to be able to play ranked with their buddies, and be against decently fair teams. The solo queue was great for anyone who didn’t want to have to deal with large groups that they weren’t a part of, or to have a true indication of their own skill.
What’re the pros saying?
As soon as Riot came out with the announcement, Reddit and other forums exploded with backlash. One of the most important comments came from C9 Rush, who outlined why there could be no solo queue and dynamic queue coexisting – because if all the solo players played solo, then four man teams in dynamic would never be able to find a fifth player. As long as Riot wants four people to be able to queue together, solo queue simply cannot exist. His explanation was met with just as much anger, towards Riot’s decisions on this front.
Many professional players have taken a stance on this, with tweets from LemonNation, C9 Jensen, Perkzlol, EdwardCarryLoL, Vander, Noxiak, Tabbz, Forg1ven, and Jankos. For the pro players, it goes past the simple preference of whether they would rather play dynamic or solo, and goes to the fundamental issue that the dynamic queue system is broken. As one Masters player posted: “You can have players who were unable to go above 2000 MMR (Plat 1/Dia 5) pop into a premade and climb to Masters+ MMR. They then hop out of the premade and feed their asses off, ruining the game for 9 players.” He goes on to say: “I’ve had games where a Diamond 4 peak player gets his shit stomped against Rush… where is the respect for your own playerbase’s time Riot? Do you think that is good practice for Rush? Or a “fun experience” for anyone on either team? These situations come up in about 10-15% of games now and it is only increasing as the ladder ages.” Via Reddit user madeaccforthiss. This is very much in line with what many of the other professional players have said, with many of them citing the fact that the queue leads to horrible matchmaking at high ELO, and that it’s an incredibly bad place to practice.
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What does this mean for you?
These issues bleed into regular play as well. Many players, myself included, have found themselves in the situation that they simply cannot play ranked with their friends anymore. Back when solo queue existed, it was alongside team ranked, in which five players would queue as a team, regardless of their divisions. That too has been removed to make way for dynamic, and due to the style of dynamic, now every player must be within one division (silver to gold, gold to platinum, etc.) of each other in order to play. Well, I’m in Diamond, but all my buddies are in Gold. Should I intentionally tank my rating in order to play with them, or should I just accept that I’ll never enjoy a team ranked experience again? Furthermore, as a strictly solo player by merit of the system’s design, why should I be forced to play alongside a four man queue every time I play?
The four man queue is the bane of the solo player’s existence. First, you’re the only player on the team not in a voice chat service. That means that you’re the only one who doesn’t receive proper communication, and the rest of the team likely won’t bother to help direct you, unless it’s a series of pings all designed to catch your attention. This creates a very anti-social and even hostile environment for the solo player, where he knows that an entire group is judging his every move. In addition, the enemy team also has a group of four, which means that four of the five of your opponents have a tactical advantage over you, putting you at a massive disadvantage. Lastly, when you are a single person queued up with a four man against a four man, it’s almost a coin flip to see which premade is better, you as a solo player have approximately 20% of the impact on the game as their queue does, meaning that your agency is out of your hands from the get-go. All this being said, this queue is meant to be indicative of a true skill level for solo players. Which is appalling.
Many solo players took to the forums to announce that, without any malicious intent, if they do not bring back solo queue then they will quit the game. For most players in this boat, it’s not that they want to stick it to Riot, it’s that they simply do not enjoy non-competitive play, and the dynamic queue does not offer a ranked experience where they can actually enjoy the game.
One thing that all players can agree upon, whether they prefer solo or dynamic queue, is that Riot has simply handled this the wrong way. When an entire community asks for something, the solution is not to promise it and never deliver. At this point there’s still a small chance that they could roll out solo queue after all, although it looks grim. Hopefully the community response will cause them to rethink their decision, because if it doesn’t, DotA will be seeing a huge influx of players in the next few months.